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As they arrive in our homes, nursing facilities and educational institutions, urgent questions are being asked about the ethics of encouraging people to have feelings towards social robots that have roles as companions, carers and teachers. This article suggests that the quality of these debates is enhanced by examining how people perceive robots and, in particular, how robots’ expressive characteristics stimulate feelings through engaging the embodied imagination. I discuss the perception and expression of the zoomorphic therapeutic robot Paro, before considering the directions an understanding of these processes can take discussions about the aesthetics and ethics of social robots.
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